On the heels of a romping sex comedy (In the Next Room/The Vibrator Play), Theatre Inconnu offers up a meaty piece of theatre with its production of The Golden Dragon by Roland Schimmelpfennig.
Although set in a Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese fast food restaurant, The Golden Dragon is more of a slow food offering — and the audience needs to sing for their supper, as the song goes. In fact, The Golden Dragon is hard work for everyone involved.
In the program’s director’s notes, Clayton Jevne states “This is not an easy play, and as such, it does not offer the entertainment escape that this stress-filled world drives us toward … take from it, not a reprieve from reality, but a deeper appreciation of reality.”
A cast of five, only one of which (Catriona Black) has graced the Theatre Inconnu stage at Little Fernwood Hall in the past, plays a multitude of characters, telling a series of seemingly unrelated stories — five chefs in the Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese fast food restaurant, a twist on Aesop’s fable (The Ant and the Grasshopper, but in this case The Ant and the Cricket) about the virtues of hard work, a pair of young lovers facing an unwanted pregnancy, and two stewardesses home after a long voyage.
Black shines as the animated Ant — wicked as he may be— and offers a lighter side to the darkness the character brings.
Bindon Kinghorn is a pleasure to watch, especially as the second stewardess, bringing a masculinity and edge to the female role.
Blair Moro brings a certain meekness to the compliant Cricket, contrasting his stocky stature with the submissive character.
Michael Romano is strong as the First Stewardess, offering a macabre look at a woman fascinated with a dislocated human incisor.
And Mily Mumford offers versatility in her roles as the young chef with a toothache, the Man in the Striped Shirt and the Barbie Fucker — three distinctive male roles for such a promising young actress — The stark contrast between the whiny young chef and the confident Barbie Fucker is a true accomplishment.
In the first act, it’s not entirely clear how all the stories are connected — only that some of the characters live in the same building as The Golden Dragon. In the second act, everything comes together lickety-split— what wasn’t clear in the first half quickly becomes apparent.
Original Asian music by Douglas Hensley sets the scene and carries the mood through intermission.
Costumes, set and lighting, also by Clayton Jevne is simple, but spot on.
Since the script only offers dialogue and little direction on form, Jevne has free reign on staging and he pulls off this complex show well. Five chefs in five brightly coloured jackets, each with a station filled with the necessary equipment to run a restaurant — pots, pans and utensils — that fill the small theatre with the chaotic sounds of a Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese fast food restaurant.
In front of each chef is a block of the same colour as their chef jacket, which are moved and manipulated to form the necessary set pieces for each story.
The five cast members stay on stage almost the entire time, switching between narrators, characters and observers with just a short pause.
The 90-minute play includes a 15 minute intermission and is just the perfect length to keep the audience engaged in such a thought-provoking, weighty story — one worth investing your time and energy in. M
The Golden Dragon
1923 Fernwood Rd
May 9, 10, 11, 15, 16,
17, 18 at 8pm
May 11, 12, 18 at 2pm
Tickets at Ticketrocket.org or 250-590-6291
Regular priced tickets
are $14 / $10 Students, Seniors, and the unwaged
(plus a $2 Ticket Rocket surcharge)